There’s No Such Thing as Creation Science–There’s Just Science

by Max Andrews

Scientific theories should not have religious import.  This may certain have tensions with Augustinian science but religious import is much more than mere metaphysical import.  Religious belief imports something that is considered to be internally authoritative (as in within that system of belief–though I don’t believe it will ever conflict).  The applicability of some of the beliefs may be universal but using religious belief as a grid for interpreting what is and what is not science is methodologically irresponsible.  Religious belief is not itself scientific but may have scientific beliefs and in sync with science.  There’s a categorical difference.

For instance, using Scripture to interpret science or empirical data is circular in its reasoning.  Scripture would already have the conclusion and then uses the reasoning process to conclude with that Scripture may be advocating.  Since I’m coming from a religious perspective I would argue that science and Scripture are harmonious and congruent.  It’s necessary to have a scientific understanding of nature and agency prior to interpreting Scripture.  In order to know a miracle has happened one must know that sea water is less dense than the human body, or that water doesn’t normally undergo chemical reactions to become fermented wine, or that dead bodies don’t normally undergo a natural biological resuscitation or resurrection.  If creation science is an actual science then the antecedent conditions must be subject to scientific scrutiny.  In other words, in order for creation science to be considered a scientific theory it must meet all the appropriate conditions (a scientific theory should have observable evidence, provides predictions, uses non-controversial reasoning, and is repeatable).  However, it’s not that creation science does or does not meet all that criteria it’s that it’s dependent on an antecedent interpretation of Scripture.[1]  Though I’m not as militant as Michael Ruse when classifying creation science as pseudoscience I do believe it falls short of being a scientific theory.  Additionally, what makes creation science so unattractive is that it is completely void of the possibility of being falsifiable unless the antecedent conditions (the interpretation) have been falsified.  This makes the issue of accounting for anomalies so absurd that creation science doesn’t really account for anomalies; rather, it produces extreme ad hoc explanations to account for contradictions to it’s theory.[4]  There’s a distinction between anomalies and refutations.[2]  Refutations are falsifiers.  Additionally, scientific theories are true regardless of any religious understanding.  Religious belief, like I mentioned earlier, begs the question on certain scientific matters.  Religious belief, when used as a hermeneutic for interpreting scientific data and developing scientific theories, is also a controversial methodology.  Its appeal to method isn’t necessarily objective (as close to objectivity can be) and is not commonly accepted (though not to be used as an argumentum ad populum).  There’s no such thing as creation science–there’s just science.

[1] Michael Ruse, along similar lines, suggests that creationists use the data from non-creationists and warp the data to have a conclusion fitted to the preconceived idea of what it should say. Michael Ruse in “Creation-Science is Not Science” in Philosophy of Science, Eds. Martin Curd and J.A. Cover (New York: Norton, 1998), 43.  This circular reasoning is worse than Kant’s use of having fixed premises from his categories by which he used deductive means to arrive at a conclusion.  Creation science does not allow for free invention of hypotheses derived from the evidence.  This is different from mere invention where science is a human institution, something we invented to organize our experiences and enhance our technological control of nature. Alex Rosenberg, Philosophy of Science ed. 3 (New York: Routledge, 2012), 53.  Free invention is more in sync with discovery contra Kant.  This free invention could be likened to an exegesis of nature.

[2] Following the idea presented by Ruse. 43.


3 Trackbacks to “There’s No Such Thing as Creation Science–There’s Just Science”

Leave a Reply